After stumbling across a lounge and building waste, amongst other bulky goods, Bellingen’s Sharon Foster is calling for locals to wise-up and stop dumping their rubbish in the Shire’s forests.
“I am seeing such an increase in household rubbish dumping in the bush,” Sharon said on Facebook.
“This is so disappointing that people think it’s okay to do this … please stop dumping and take responsibility ... I know there will be comments on how expensive it is to take it to Raleigh or Coffs Waste Centre.
“There are lots of excuses for this dumping but there is no reason.”
Her call was met with sympathy and anger, though there were those who believed that waste dumping is caused by the fees charged at the Shire’s waste management facilities.
“Unfortunately Sharon, this is only going to get worse as people can't afford the exorbitant tip fees, in the end will cost council more to go out and clean up,” Karen Gardner responded on Facebook.
“Going to the tip is now only a luxury for the ritch (sic) and as long as the prices to dump are extreme, people will be left with no option but to dump it,” Scott Sagaris chimed in.
While some members of the public claim fees are a factor in the growing problem of people dumping items, the issue of dumping has been noted up and down the coast.
Indeed, MidCoast Council recently issued a statement that “council waste fees are calculated simply by recovering the cost of providing the service”.
The inference being that councils do not overcharge.
This sentiment was backed up by Bellingen Shire Council which said their rates were towards the lower end when compared to other councils and “illegal dumping is illegal dumping and there is no excuse that can be used to justify it”.
People dumping building materials, appliances or household waste in local forests is an ongoing problem within the Shire. Though the fines are hefty, by the very nature of the offence, people who dump rubbish tend to do it covertly so it’s difficult to catch culprits in the act.
While council will remove rubbish that has accumulated on local government land, often more than not the rubbish is dumped into the Shire’s state forests.
The clean-up then becomes a problem for NSW Forestry Corporation.
“Our state forests are fantastic assets for the region and should be places the whole community is able to take pride in and enjoy, so it is really disappointing to have to continually remove dumped rubbish,” a NSW Forestry Corporation spokesperson said.
“The community can assist by reporting anything suspicious they notice while exploring the forest.”
The waste facility charges include the section 88 levy, which council is required to collect on behalf of the state government.
The section 88 levy is currently around $76 per tonne. Bellingen Shire’s gate fee is around $160, MidCoast Council $175, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council $220 and Port Stephens $269.